Bio-triggered smart dam helps Boralex facility protect blueback herring.

In mid-2022 a New York State Boralex Dam on the Mohawk River, near the town of Cohoes, NY installed a new fully automated monitoring system from BioSonics. Blueback herring pass through the dam during their annual outmigration, and the dam operator must provide safe passage. The new system features BioSonics’ DT-X Automated Monitoring System — an echo sounder that uses hydroacoustic sensors to detect the fish. The new 4th generation system automatically opens bypass gates to allow the herring’s passage. The un-manned system controls the amount of water spilled and can shut down power generation turbines if necessary for the fish to pass safely.

The smart system allows for continuous monitoring, reduces water spilled by only operating when necessary, can increase power generation by avoiding waste or downtime, and therefore decreases operational costs — all while keeping the marine life safe. In addition, the BioSonics system transmits fish count summary reports and helps the dam meet state regulations and maintain their FERC licensure.

A Completely Automated System

As the blueback herring migrate downstream and encounter the dam, the BioSonic sensors detect if the fish density has exceeded a certainthreshold. If so, the sensors then activate the dam spill gate to allow the fish to continue downstream. Once the sensors detect that the density has decreased, the gate is raised once again. This process is entirely automated and unmanned, with a daily report of spill events and fish counts is sent to project managers via email.

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